Statement 322/365

18th November 2015 Environment ( Hostem Upper Floors - Information )

Informed and inspired by the warm monochromatic graininess and ‘noise’ of old photographic plates. Hostems’ Upper floors were developed with a sense of privacy and remoteness from street level in mind. It required a feeling of calm and elevation to match. A strong emphasis on honesty and truth to materials. Predominantly used in their natural state, with subtle embellishments. To achieve this delicate balance, every element was custom designed by JAMESPLUMB, and the majority made in house, by hand, in their own studio.

Innovation of materials. A timeless lightness of touch. An approach underscored by the unique steel parquet floor that is central to the design. Over 4500 individual tiles laid by hand. The natural beauty of the steel, with its colour variations and imperfections are accentuated by a herringbone pattern that highlights the uniqueness of each tile.

The white plastered walls are sealed and polished with wax. Both surfaces offer a balance of unfinished rawness with a jewel like reflective surface.
 Tranquility and simplicity pervade, but with depth and richness derived from texture and detail. A warmth has skillfully been created despite the connotations of materials commonly associated with an industrial look. Steel displays are inlaid with natural felt. Concrete shelves and planks support refined clothes rails. Cast in individual wooden moulds carefully chosen for their imperfections. The unique knots and deep wood grain of each are the antithesis of a manufactured finish.

There is a playful contrast between these simple forms that reference basic building techniques and the precision steel works of the floor. The ungainly heaviness of concrete is avoided by both cheating gravity and embracing it. The shelves float on steel pegs in the wall, whilst the planks press themselves against the walls – effortlessly counterbalancing their rails full of product.

The stairs have a simple yet beautiful steel runner to guide you to the second floor and the mezzanine of the double height space. Fabric panels drape dramatically five metres from ceiling to floor, each framing an individual piece as if being captured for posterity in front of an infinity wall. There is an unusual and indulgent amount of space afforded to one garment. It is as if the items have fast tracked to a museum – a feeling of archival preciousness – and yet they are accessible and very much to be touched, explored, and worn. The lighting too, references the photographer’s studio. Custom designed lights inspired by cine-foil are in fact beautifully patinated lead sheets – crumpled, shaped and formed to direct the light.

This veneration to the clothing and attention to detail extends to the clothes hangers themselves that are entirely bespoke, each having been hand-formed from four pieces of steel. They are a line drawing made physical – the essence of a clothes hanger. The result – as with the store itself – is a beautiful tension between simple elegance, and raw materiality.